It is no secret that the secret to customer-satisfaction success in the restaurant business, even above the quality of the food, is brilliant hospitality. It is all part of the experience when going to a restaurant that the staff are friendly, helpful and attentive. A great restaurant also offers great hospitality through the quality and the presentation of the food, drinks, ambience and the table.
In this guide, we will be discussing the ways in which restaurants typically offer good hospitality and some improvements that could be made to any dining business.
Putting the Customer First
This is not simply following “the customer is always right” policy, putting the customer first is all about making them feel special and valued. The key is to keep it personal, make an effort to remember regular customers and great them as if they are a friend. Whilst both you and the customer both know it is not technically the case, you need to make the customer feel as though the staff are only dealing with them and not rushing between tables. To make sure this is possible, you must ensure you are well staffed and never under staffed. If you have trouble with under-staffing, you could consider getting in touch with a temporary work agency. Rota is an agency which specialises in connecting and matching up those who are looking for part time work in hospitality with credible employers offering hospitality work. Going down this route will mean than you do not have to take on more permanent staff than needed.
As Elizabeth Carter from the Good Food Guide put it “Dining out is all about placing customers at the centre of the experience and ensuring they are well looked after and that means personable, professional service.”
However, be careful not to be over the top with the service. After all, too much service is as bad as no service at all as it can make your customers feel overwhelmed or over-watch and uneasy.
Furthermore, within the restaurant trade timing is everything. If you are too slow in delivering the food and drinks, this could be problematic and if it should ever happen (which is regularly does) the customers should be kept up to date on the whereabouts of their order. You also need to avoid being too prompt; this can make your customers feel rushed if their courses come to closely together. Moreover, if they do not have room to digest their different courses, they are less likely to enjoy the food and may not return to your restaurant.
Excellent Staff Training
In order to deliver great hospitality, it is essential to make sure your staff are trained and educated in how to provide the best experience possible for diners. There is no point in having an incredible venue, an outstanding chef with access to all the best facilities just to have staff who have poor communication skills which are, of course, so vital when greeting and serving guests.
Benchmarking service levels is essential to achieve excellent customer service. Comparing your business and service against your competitors as well as reviewing your progress from year to year are great ways of doing this. You can also request “mystery shopper” visits and customer feedback online or on a form.
The best service is usually provided by the members of staff who are knowledgeable. This may include knowledge of the menu, wine matching, being able to recommend dishes, knowing how to lay a table correctly and dietary recommendations for those who require it. It is a great touch if the staff know the dishes which are on the menu so that they are able to clear up any questions about them instead having to run off to the kitchen to constantly ask them and report back. Furthermore, if they know the dishes, they will know if side dishes are necessary or if they come with the meal itself. Diners do not want to feel as though they are being ripped off by ordering food that they do not need to complete their meal.
Value for Money
Customers want to believe that they are getting value for money and that the price you are charging is justifiable when comparing it to your service and the quality of the food. Whatever your restaurant promises, you should be true to it so that people have no room to believe they have wasted their money with you.
When things go wrong
Of course, there are going to be times in which things do not go to plan in the restaurant trade, but how it is handled is key in providing great hospitality. Customers will not be put off returning if any complaints or accidental wrong-doings are handled professionally and with the customer in mind at all times. Things like delays, whether that be with the food, drinks or a table, should be explained as soon as they are discovered, everyone understands that they happen, but being left in the dark can massively turn people off returning to your premises.